An Israeli company has developed a single application that allows users to share all their media on all their devices, simply and without excessive adjustments and settings.
By David Shamah
The world is full of gadgets, but they’re surprisingly provincial, with few, if any, capable of speaking a language other than their own, says Erez Pilosof, CEO of Israeli startup Libox. After frustrating attempts to convince his devices to try to understand each other, Pilosof, came up with his own solution – an application that can show any video, display any picture, or play any song stored on any computer, on any other digital device – including computers, cell phones, iPads, you name it.
What’s needed, says Pilosof, an entrepreneur who in the past founded and ran Israeli Web portal Walla, is a single application/platform that allows users to share all their media on all their devices, simply and without excessive under-the-hood adjustments and settings. And Libox, he asserts, is the only application that fits those criteria.
"Libox is a transparent cross-platform solution that lets you share any media file from any device to any other device. If you take video or photos on your iPhone, you can view them on your PC. And if you download a video onto your PC, you can watch it on your iPhone, or any other device." In essence, Libox puts your media files into your own ‘personal cloud,’ and even solves all the technical problems associated with accessing files.
Libox doesn’t make the incompatibilities disappear. Rather, it tucks them under-the-hood,
where they’re the software’s problem, not yours.
Tucking incompatibilities under the hood
We live in an age of social sharing, where numerous people automatically share the minute events of their lives with friends and fans. But media – the music, movies, and even documents that are such a major part of the digital experience – are difficult to share.
While there are applications that allow you to share the music on your computer with your phone – they don’t address sharing videos or photos, says Pilosof, who notes, "In addition, there is also the problem of the device you use to play the media. Photos saved in iPhoto on a Macintosh are notoriously difficult to view on a PC, and different devices, like the iPhone, can’t even play files with certain kinds of encoding. Each device has its own particular way of doing things, making the idea of sharing files a challenge."
There’s also the problem of access. Building a computer network of machines with diverse operating systems is a major hassle for the uninitiated. And cloud storage solutions, where users upload their files to a remote server for always-on access, are expensive. These services do offer a basic 2 GB for free, but "that doesn’t help, because many media files today are pretty close to that size," Pilosof points out.
Anyone who has ever tried to play video or audio files with formats that are not automatically or natively supported, on devices that don’t support those formats, quickly enters a world of technical hurt, trying (usually in vain) to understand concepts like encoding, codecs, bitrates, and the other jargon that makes up media files.
Libox doesn’t make the incompatibilities disappear. Rather, it tucks them under-the-hood, where they’re the software’s problem, not yours. "We obviously have a lot of things going on under the surface of the application. The interface is more or less the same on each device, and the conversion takes place in the background, so the user never has to deal with controls, settings, or any of the technical issues," Pilosof explains. And those background operations enable Libox to preserve the full user experience of each device, regardless of where it is being used. For example, "you not only get the music off your PC, but you also get your iTunes playlists. We ensure that the user experience remains the same on all devices."
Changing the thinking about combining media
So far, the Tel Aviv based company is offering Libox free of charge. Pilosof says he has some ideas for revenue models, "but they aren’t based on advertising." Meanwhile, he has a number of enhancements in mind for future versions, with document sharing – a la Google Docs – definitely on the agenda.
Currently, Libox is a cross-platform application, but the company is set to release its API soon, and Web sites will be able to integrate aspects of the program into their sites – turning Libox, essentially, into a platform.
While such a platform, enabling seamless, no-headache file sharing, would certainly have many uses beyond just watching PC files on handheld devices, one potential roadblock is the speed of your computer, and the speed of your network. Neither, however, need be a deterrent for Libox.
According to Pilosof, processing only occurs on the file you are using at the time, so you don’t overtax your PC or your device’s processor, and "we have made great strides in compression, enabling users to access files over Wifi and cell networks with a minimum of hassle."
The company is poised for a major expansion. As word gets out about the application (it’s barely six months old), tens of thousands of people are already using it and telling their friends. With six employees, Libox plans to expand in the near future, and Pilosof, an old hand in the start-up world, has been working with VCs and angels to procure and increase funding. "Libox is truly revolutionary," Pilosof concludes, "We are changing the way people think about storing, sharing, and using media."